The Interstate Mercury Education and Reduction Clearinghouse (IMERC) invites additional states to become members. The states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont created IMERC in 2001 to help them implement laws and programs aimed at getting mercury out of products, the waste stream, and the environment. Washington State joined IMERC in 2003, followed by Illinois in 2004. California, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Louisiana joined IMERC between 2005 and 2007 while Michigan joined in 2010. IMERC is a program of the Northeast Waste Management Officials' Association (NEWMOA). NEWMOA has modified the Association's by-laws to authorize membership for non-NEWMOA member state government agencies that wish to join IMERC.
- ongoing technical and programmatic assistance to states that have enacted mercury education and reduction legislation; and
- a single point of contact for industry and the public for information on mercury-added products and member states' mercury education and reduction programs.
NEWMOA's staff provides logistical, facilitation, and technical support for the activities of IMERC. IMERC facilitates deliberations that provide advice and assistance to the individual states for their decision-making.
A state agency can benefit from participation in IMERC from:
- consistency in state implementation of mercury education and reduction laws, including notification and other data gathering activities, phase-outs, labeling, and collection systems;
- effective interstate coordination and communication on mercury-added product legislative initiatives, laws, and rules related to mercury reduction programs;
- efficient and effective communications with the regulated community;
- inter-state communications and coordination on public education on mercury-added products and wastes;
- effective measurement of the impacts of the mercury-reduction programs;
- public access to relevant state information and guidance; and
- effective collection of mercury-added products and improved management of these materials.
Current IMERC activities include:
- facilitating interstate collaboration on the development and implementation of public education and outreach programs on mercury-added products;
- collecting and managing data on mercury-added products;
- making information on mercury-added products available to industry and the public;
- analyzing trends in mercury use in products and preparing reports presenting the trends data;
- responding to requests for information on mercury management, education, and reduction legislation and other activities; and
- providing technical assistance, facilitating review, and making recommendations to the member states concerning (1) manufacturer notifications to states regarding the use, amount, and purpose of mercury in their products; (2) manufacturer applications for exemptions to the phase-out of mercury-added products; (3) manufacturer applications for alternative labeling of mercury-added products; and (4) manufacturer plans for collection and proper waste management of mercury-containing materials.
All IMERC-member states have an equal vote on the recommendations made by the Clearinghouse to the member states. All state representatives to IMERC are appointed by the responsible State Environmental Agency Commissioner or Director.
IMERC currently has an overall coordinating IMERC Committee that consists of at least one representative from each member state. This Committee convenes via conference call twice a year. To date, this group has focused on new mercury-added product legislative initiatives that the states are interested in pursuing and developing a set of key outcome measures for states to use to demonstrate the impacts of their mercury reduction activities. This Committee has also focused on the compliance assistance efforts of IMERC.
IMERC has also formed four subcommittees based on the types of requirements that individual states have enacted, including:
- A Mercury-added Product Labeling Committee that coordinates state mandatory product labeling activities to help ensure consistency in product labeling. The current state members that are active on this Subcommittee include Connecticut, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, Washington, and Vermont, since these are the state members of IMERC that have product labeling requirements in effect. This Subcommittee has been meeting via conference call on an as needed basis, depending on the number and type of alternative labeling requests that are submitted and product labeling policies and implementation issues that the states are facing.
- A Mercury-added Product Notification Committee to coordinate state reporting requirements for manufacturers of mercury-added products, to manage a single point of contact for submitting Notification Forms, and to facilitate interstate review of the Forms. The current state members that are active on this Subcommittee include Connecticut, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont since these are the state members of IMERC that require Mercury-added Product Notification. This Subcommittee generally meets via monthly conference calls to review Notification Forms that are submitted and to discuss policy issues that arise. This Subcommittee has met face-to-face on an as needed basis to discuss changes and modifications to the Product Notification Forms and process.
- A Mercury-added Product Phase-out Committee to coordinate state reviews of Mercury-added Product Phase-out Exemption Applications. The current state members that are active on this Subcommittee include California, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington since these are the state members of IMERC, who have some mercury-added product phase-outs or bans in place that allow for companies to apply for an exemption. This Subcommittee has been meeting via conference call on an as needed basis depending on the number and types of applications that are submitted by manufacturers seeking a phase-out exemption.
IMERC periodically publishes IMERC Alert, which is an electronic compliance assistance bulletin, to inform manufacturers and distributors of mercury-added products and their consultants, lawyers, and trade associations about new mercury-added product requirements and key deadlines. In addition to this publication, IMERC staff addresses questions about state mercury reduction laws and requirements on a daily basis from the regulated community. Frequently, if there is a state specific question that the IMERC staff cannot address, they will refer the caller to knowledgeable individuals in the state for additional information or send them to the state's website.
IMERC has developed and published guidance documents for the regulated community on compliance with state mercury reduction laws. Periodically, with the oversight and assistance from the member states IMERC updates and revises these guidance documents.
IMERC maintains an online database of information on mercury-added products that is based on the information submitted by the manufacturers or distributors of those products.
IMERC welcomes the participation of additional states. Effective October 1, 2006, all non-NEWMOA IMERC member states that participate in the Clearinghouse pay an annual fee. Annual dues for non-NEWMOA member state membership in IMERC is $10,000/year. The IMERC fiscal year is on the federal fiscal year schedule, commencing October 1 of each year. Arrangement can be made for pro-rating dues for a partial year when joining IMERC. Any state agency that is interested in joining IMERC should send a letter stating its interest in joining the Clearinghouse and willingness to pay the annual dues to IMERC, c/o NEWMOA, 129 Portland Street, Suite 602, Boston, MA 02114-2014.
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